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The Methodist Hospital has joined the movement toward requiring their registered nurses to have bachelor’s degrees.

Since December, the Texas Medical Center institution has required all newly hired experienced nurses to have a four-year degree. This helps the hospital create a nursing work force equipped to treat patients with more complicated conditions such as transplants while handling expanding technology and an ever-increasing knowledge base, said Ann Scanlon McGinity, Methodist’s chief nursing executive and senior vice president for operations.

“At the patient’s bedside, the risk is high with very sick patients. The margin for error is very small. You have to have people who think and put together information very critically and very quickly. I don’t think people with a two-year degree can do all that,” said McGinity, who has a master’s degree in nursing and a doctorate in developmental psychology. “The whole notion is creating an environment where education and lifelong learning is a requirement as opposed to getting a license or a degree and that’s the end of it.”

Methodist employs nearly 2,000 registered nurses. More than two-thirds of them have at least a four-year degree, including 6 percent — more than 100 — who have graduate degrees.

The requirement doesn’t apply to about three dozen licensed vocational nurses — LVNs who are licensed through the Texas Board of Nursing — or the 400-plus patient care assistants who complete a certification course.

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